Things just keep getting better and better for Mason Toye.
A week removed from an MLS Team of the Week performance against the Montreal Impact, Toye entered Minnesota United’s duel with FC Dallas in the 67th minute with the game scoreless.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Toye registered his first shot of the game. After an effort from teammate Jan Gregus forced Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez into a diving save, the ball fell to Toye.
Seconds later, 19,906 fans jumped to their feet as the winning goal found the back of the net and Toye wheeled away from the penalty area, hands outstretched.
Asked where the finish falls among the goals he’s scored in his young pro career, Toye already knew how important the game-winner is. “That’s definitely the top one right now,” he said.
After a disappointing rookie season, Toye is experiencing the opposite of a sophomore slump — and it’s deserved. “Mason’s started to do the things we know he’s capable of,” said manager Adrian Heath, a former striker himself. “I’m a huge believer, you get out of not only life, but football, what you put in. He’s getting the rewards for 18 months of every day, every afternoon wanting to work.”
With the game-winning goal coming off a rebound, perhaps Toye was experiencing the effects of a “board man gets paid” mentality. “Kind of, yeah,” he said at the suggestion. “Any way you can put the ball in the goal, whether it’s off a rebound, whether it comes off your knee, or if it’s a nice goal ... doesn’t really matter. Because at the end of the day, when people read the papers, they just see that you scored ... and we won.”
With three goals in his last two league games, Toye is sure to receive more opportunities to prove himself going forward. “It’s only the beginning for him. Career is just starting,” said Heath.
Sealed and Vito’d
As if the final minutes of the game needed more drama, goalkeeper Vito Mannone was called for a penalty after a VAR review.
In a part-reaction, part-karma play, Mannone saved Reto Ziegler’s penalty, sealing the victory for United.
The Loons’ technical staff had prepared for the situation with Mannone, reviewing film and advising him to look to the corner for the attempt. The ‘keeper went against his coaches, but saved it. “His run-up was telling me something different from what I saw on the video,” Mannone explained.
The noise from the crowd after Mannone’s save was unlike anything heard before at Allianz Field. Miguel Ibarra, attempting to launch a counter attack in the opposite direction, and Gonzalez, attempting to thwart it, couldn’t hear the referee’s whistle after the play.
“At the end of the game, after he saved it, I couldn’t hear anything because it was so loud,” said Toye, who was similarly situated.
Despite watching a nil-nil draw for 90 minutes, the home crowd packed in the energy during the final few minutes, which wasn’t lost on the team. “I gotta mention the crowd because I think they got us over the line today,” said Heath. “I’ve never heard the stadium as loud as the last five minutes.”
On the Guest List
The list of recognizable names at the match reads like the start of a joke: incoming transfer Robin Lod was spotted by the Pioneer Press’ Andy Greder, Premier League team Aston Villa— who play the Loons in a friendly on Wednesday — was walking around the concourse, and former Loon Harrison Heath — Adrian’s son — were all in attendance.
Announced attendance was 19,906 ... Captain Ozzie Alonso left the game with a shoulder injury, but Heath said it wasn’t serious ... The Loons’ next league game comes against Real Salt Lake next Saturday.